2012 Contract Issues Series

The 2012 Contract Issues series is complete.  Below are links to our posts for each team, as well as a brief summary of what they face after the season.  Please take the estimated 2012 payroll flexibility numbers with a large grain of salt, because those figures involve me making assumptions on arbitration awards, options, and payrolls and do not reflect possible trades.

AL East

  • Orioles: Slew of veteran free agents in Vlad, Derrek Lee, Mike Gonzalez, Hardy. Jones, Guthrie, Scott due big arb raises. Could have $18MM+ to spend.
  • Red Sox: Major free agents include Drew, Ortiz, and Papelbon.  Ellsbury is biggest arb case.  Plenty of needs but only $23MM in estimated payroll flexibility, and must deal with luxury tax.
  • Yankees: Have to decide whether to re-sign Colon and/or Garcia; rotation will face huge uncertainty in likely event Sabathia opts out. Tough option decision on Swisher; Cashman could have $50MM to work with if declined.
  • Rays: Record-setting arb case for Price; arb raise due to Upton. Retaining all option and arb eligible players would require a payroll increase; major creativity required here.
  • Blue Jays: Club options on three relievers plus Hill; notable arb cases in Escobar and Morrow. Should have $24MM+ to spend.

AL Central

  • White Sox: Rotation questions with Buehrle and Jackson due for free agency; also Pierre. Solid arb raises due to Danks and Quentin; $13MM to spend unless payroll is raised or there's a trade.
  • Indians: Options on Sizemore and Carmona; big arb cases for Masterson, Choo, Chris Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera. Retaining all key players would bring them to '11 payroll level, but playoff run would create some flexibility.
  • Tigers: Estimated $13MM in flexibility unless payroll is raised.  Scherzer in line for large raise as first-time arb player.
  • Royals: Opening Day rotation may be mostly replaced by top prospects; solid stopgaps Betemit and Francoeur up for free agency also.  Arb raise due to Gordon; sticky situation with affordable Soria option.  Could easily find $40MM+ to spend this offseason.
  • Twins: Five regular players hitting free agency; arb decisions due on Liriano and Young.  Estimated $30MM to spend but lots of needs.

AL West

  • Angels: Pineiro is biggest free agent; nice arb raise due to Kendrick and possibly a historic one to Weaver.  Should still have $24MM to spend.
  • Athletics: Likely that 60% of team's regular position players reach free agency. Large arb class headed by Gio Gonzalez and Bailey.  Might have $17MM to spend but lots of openings.
  • Mariners: Bedard is most notable free agent; pitchers Vargas and League due arb raises. Should have $20MM+ to spend.
  • Rangers: Crucial free agent in C.J. Wilson, and expensive arb raises coming for Cruz, Napoli, and others. No payroll flexibility even without Wilson unless payroll is raised significantly.

NL East

  • Braves: Notable arb case for Jurrjens; could have $15MM to put toward tinkering. More available if a starter is dealt.
  • Marlins: Disappointing free agents in Vazquez, Infante. Anibal Sanchez, Leo Nunez biggest arb cases.  Would have less than $10MM to spend with $70MM payroll.
  • Mets: Reyes, Beltran, and possibly K-Rod up for free agency if either is still around at season's end.  Solid arb raise due to Pelfrey. Would have $20MM to play with even with a drop to a $100MM payroll; future of franchise hinges on Picard lawsuit.
  • Phillies: Rollins, Madson are key free agents; Oswalt has mutual option. Massive arb raise due for Hamels; could still have $38MM to spend.
  • Nationals: Limited flexibility once decent arb class is accounted for, until the team gets a payroll bump.

NL Central

  • Cubs: Fukudome, Pena, Ramirez likely to depart as free agents; Dempster has player option. Notable arb cases for Soto, Garza. Even with Dempster they'd have over $60MM to spend if payroll is maintained, opening up possibility for big offseason led by bidding on Pujols or Fielder.
  • Reds: Option on Phillips; less than $10MM to spend if he's retained.
  • Astros: Big arb cases in Pence and Bourn; would leave less than $10MM to spend unless Crane raises payroll to previous levels.
  • Brewers: Expected to lose Fielder; big arb raise coming for Marcum.  May have only $10-15MM to spend.
  • Pirates: Lots of club options, most will be declined. Morton, Hanrahan up for arb; should have at least $25MM to spend.
  • Cardinals: Free agent monsters in Pujols and Berkman plus a tough option decision on Carpenter. Rasmus, Garcia enter arb.  Declining Carp would give about $26MM to spend, most of which would have to go to Pujols.

NL West

  • Diamondbacks: Kelly Johnson a free agent; Saunders a non-tender candidate. Should have over $20MM to spend.
  • Rockies: No big free agent or arb cases. Could have around $12MM to spend.
  • Dodgers: Kuroda eligible for free agency and uncertainty in the infield.  Large raises due for Kershaw, Kemp, and Ethier in arb; Loney may be non-tendered.  Maintaining payroll could leave $37MM to spend, though that could be reduced assuming ownership remains in flux.
  • Padres: Veteran free agents: Bell, Ludwick, Harang, Hawpe, Qualls. Adams, Gregerson, Stauffer lead a large arb group. Arb paydays could leave less than $10MM to spend.
  • Giants: Ground-breaking arb case for Lincecum; Sandoval and Sanchez also eligible. Even with several position players up for free agency, payroll flexibility appears to be under $10MM.

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